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Top Ten Tips > Easing the Consequences of a DUI

5. Court Fines

Typically, in Mendocino County and other counties, your attorney can arrange monthly payments of $65-$100 to ease the financial burden of increasingly higher court fines for a DUI. Be sure to write your case number on each check. Try to pay off the entire amount early to avoid problems which often occur due to lost or forgotten payments. A failure to pay may result in a violation of probation (making a subsequent expungement of your criminal record much more difficult for a Mendocino County DUI lawyer to perform for you in the future), and reporting to the DMV (resulting in an unanticipated driver license suspension notice in your mailbox).

Your Mendocino County DUI defense lawyer will provide you with information on how to pay fines. Payment information may also be obtained at the Mendocino County court's Collections Department Website. You should independently confirm payment arrangements by immediately checking with the applicable office; confirm your first payment date, amounts, addresses and other arrangements to avoid missed payments due to inadvertent error.

Community Service Alternative To DUI Fines

If you cannot afford to pay even a small amount each month, then you may wish to consider discussing the Mendocino County Community Service program alternative, which is monitored by Mendo-Lake Alternative Service, Inc., located in Room 209 in the Ukiah Courthouse (468-3422). The Court converts your fine to community service at a certain hourly rate. For example, if the hourly rate was $10.00, then you would be required to complete 50 hours of community service within a certain amount of time in order to work off $500.00 of your fine. Only certain portions of fines and fees may be converted to community service.

Don't Pay A Reimbursement Bill From a Police Agency or Hospital Before Speaking To a Lawyer!

You may receive a bill from the police. Some police agencies routinely mail reimbursement bills to attempt to recoup costs for arresting you! Even though you may be a Mendocino County taxpayer and may have already paid for the police department, the police car, the uniform and the salary of the police officer whose arrest you are now fighting, still, in these tough economic times Mendocino County agencies may try to bill you for reimbursement of their costs for the actual arrest incident pursuant to government code section 53150. See a recent example here of a Santa Rosa City "Invoice". Although an invoice pursuant to this law may be valid if emergency personnel were required to respond (for example an ambulance, paramedics or fire trucks responding to an accident scene, or more CHP officers to manage traffic interruption), nevertheless, the California appeals court for Mendocino County has ruled that an ordinary arrest for DUI is not a sufficient trigger event to require reimbursement under this law. See, California Highway Patrol v. Superior Court (1st Dist 2006) 135 C.A.4th 488. See the more comprehensive discussion on this site about the Allende case, and developments since this case was first published, under Hire a Lawyer.

A recent example. A recent CHP invoice (2 years after the above case was published) to one of Jake's DUI clients involved in an uneventful DUI arrest states that "the defendant herein shall pay to CHP the total indicated below" which lists 5.2 personnel hours and a total due of $469.33. After reviewing this client's incident, and the invoice received, Jake was outraged by the misleading mandatory "shall" language in the invoice from an agency whose leaders are sworn to uphold and enforce the law, and he advised this client not to pay the bill. Although failure to pay may result in a lawsuit by the agency, or cause an item to be referred to a collection agency and risk a negative credit incident, such effects may be negated with vigilance and protest when, as in the case above, the claimed debt is invalid and disputed. Many people may never hear from the police agency again, or if a lawsuit is filed by the Mendocino County agency, the defendant will have the opportunity to challenge the collection attempt and claimed amounts.

You might get a bill from the hospital. Often a DUI arrest involves a blood test, because a breath test was unavailable, or because you chose the blood test rather than the breath test, or because the officer informed you (as they are required) that the breath-testing equipment does not retain any sample of the breath and that no breath sample will be available after the test which could be analyzed later by you or your DUI lawyer, and because no breath sample is retained, you have the opportunity to provide a blood or urine sample that will be retained at no cost to you so that there will be something retained that may be subsequently analyzed for the alcoholic content of your blood. See Vehicle Code Section 23614.

The fact that the police do not have access to their own medical staff, or to a paramedic response (many police agencies do have such access), does not mean that you should have to pay for alternative hospital staff to perform the blood draw while you are in state custody exercising a right protected by law which specifically states that there will be no cost to you. If you received such a bill (click here for an example of a hospital bill for blood draw), then you should discuss it with a Ukiah DUI attorney before paying it. Always discuss your individual circumstances with a Mendocino County DUI lawyer because they may affect the actual advice given to you in your unique case.

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Dave Jake Schwartz is an Honors Graduate from UC Hastings Law School, and UC Davis, former Federal Judicial Clerk, and Nationally Qualified Sobriety Tests Practitioner. Member of the California Bar for 30 years, North Bay resident for over 20 years, handles only DUI cases, including thousands of North Bay DUIs and DMV hearings: first/multiple offenders, minors, seniors, tourists, undocumented immigrants, veterans, probation violations, suspended license, public intoxication, open container, minor in possession, child endangerment, collisions, hit and run, evading, resisting arrest.

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Dave Jake Schwartz